The ACS and SGF have raised concerns with MPs over the potential impact of the removal of ATMs on local consumers, especially in rural areas.

The two lobby groups have submitted a joint response to the House of Commons Scottish Affairs Committee inquiry on the ATM network, which was launched as a result of a decision by LINK to reduce ATM interchange fees paid by banks to ATM operators and retailers by 20% over a four-year period starting from July.

The inquiry is considering the impact of this decision on Scottish businesses, consumers and high streets.

The ACS’ submission highlights convenience retailers’ concerns that the increasing cost of hosting ATMs, driven by increasing business rates bills and changes to LINK interchange fees, could force retailers to move ATMs onto a charging model or remove ATMs altogether.

The submission calls on the Payment Systems Regulator to ensure that LINK effectively monitors ATM coverage at a local level, delivers on its commitments to improve the financial inclusion programme, and holds a comprehensive review of access to cash with LINK.

Figures from the 2017 ACS Local Shop Report show that more than three quarters (76%) of in-store transactions are paid for by cash. While retailers are increasingly offering alternative payment methods such as contactless and mobile payments, cash remains the most common payment method for local shop consumers.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “Convenience retailers play an important role in providing access to cash through ATMs as more bank branches close, with over half of Scottish stores hosting a free to use ATM and one-in-ten providing a charged machine in often isolated locations.

“ATMs enable local people to have access to their cash to spend, which is essential to other local businesses. The Payment Systems Regulator must be prepared to intervene to protect national coverage of the ATM network and work with LINK to secure long-term access to cash.”

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